The Case for a Four Party System

There is no question that the people of the United States are indoctrinated into the intellectually and politically debilitating ideology of the two-party state from an early age.  But it remains an open question just when that ideology really takes hold in the minds of Americans since there are so many independent variables in play.  Whatever the case may be in that regard, younger Americans are among the most independently-minded segments of the electorate.  In an opinion piece for Fox News, Isaac Inkeles, a prep school student from New York City, makes the case for a four party system:
The more I watch Washington work, the more I am convinced that it doesn’t. This problem is not an invention of the 24-hour news cycle, talk radio, and the blogosphere; it’s systemic. Our two-party system thrives on partisan bickering and celebrates political intransigence . . . 
It seems that now more so than ever moderates have no political home. The obvious way to deal with this is to create a new third party, a purely centrist party.  The problem is that there is no base for a purely centrist party. If such a base did exist, one which backed spending cuts, tax hikes, and an environmental policy that is both green and economic, we’d have a President Bloomberg or President Huntsman. There is no centrist base in America . . .

Essentially, I would split each party in two. For the Republican Party, this would be as simple as establishing a separate Tea Party, most likely lead by Jim DeMint or Mike Lee –sorry, still no room for Ron Paul.
It also shouldn’t be too difficult to separate the Democratic Party. Just give Sherrod Brown a chance to unite with Berry Sanders and the Blue Dogs an opportunity to break free.
Not only do voting bases exist for these two new parties, but so do activists, donor lists, organizations, and elected officials. This means no lag time between the creation of the two new parties and the day they become competitive.

A four party system will also facilitate compromise in ways that a three party system cannot. . . . 
However, it’s very possible that in a four party system, the center right and center left parties could together control half of the seats in Congress. A compromise between these two parties –and the politicians in these parties wouldn’t be afraid to compromise because they’re, well, reasonable- would produce pragmatic policy, driven by practicality rather than ideology.

We must also have electoral reform. If all four parties are competitive than virtually every presidential election will go to the House. Even worse, for state and local elections, tactical voting will ensue. And why is tactical voting such a bad thing? Americans should feel free to vote their conscience and not feel constrained by strategic political concerns . . . .
Read the whole thing.


Calmoderate said...

I can see the Republican split making sense. I am less sure about the Democrats, I just can't figure those folks out.

What strikes me as something different and possibly helpful is to move away from thinking about a new political party in terms of how pragmatic it is instead of whether it is left, right or center left or right. Its not clear if center left or right means more pragmatic or more compromise between the left and the right. There can be a difference between those two things.

I suspect there often (usually?) is a difference between what you would get when you compromise on an issue vs. what you get when you just completely blow off political ideology and try to see the issue for what it is and then try to settled on policy.

However, a political party grounded in pragmatism is a real long shot. It is surprising (to me, at least) that most Americans are so reluctant to leave the two parties for a new one. Given the resistance to change, a centrist left or right party probably has a much higher chance becoming real than a party that is just pragmatic. Pragmatism is just too alien a concept in politics for most people to be comfortable with it.

Solomon Kleinsmith said...

"However, a political party grounded in pragmatism is a real long shot. It is surprising (to me, at least) that most Americans are so reluctant to leave the two parties for a new one."

Are you kidding?!? People are leaving the parties for NOTHING right now. You really don't think they'd leave even faster if there was a decent viable alternative? There are millions moderates across the country who are registered with their party because they are the lesser evil. Give them something actually better, a big tent centrist party, like we saw for a brief moment in time with the Reform Party in the early 90's... except better run, and you've got a recipe for a new lasting party.

We're finally going to start seeing if I'm right about this in the coming decade. What will happen with Americans Elect? Will state orgs like OneMaine, and the Moderate Party of Rhode Island, grow and succeed at making waves? Will more states get moderate parties, and will they begin to work together nationally?

Pragmatism is the wrong word. The biggest group of those who are either unrepresented, or underrepresented, in government are centrists and moderates. As much as I personally think the views of the center are more pragmatic, those on the left and right disagree. It's just not a fair label to use, since the whole idea rests on your perspective on what is most practical.

TiradeFaction said...

"–sorry, still no room for Ron Paul.

This seems a bit odd to me. Is the author stating that in a more open system, Ron Paul still wouldn't have a chance, even though he's elected under our current system? I'd think in a more open system, that'd give him, and his adherents more room to leverage, not less.

Otherwise, that was an interesting, if not a little terse, commentary from Fox News (even if it was just an op ed)

Solomon Kleinsmith said...

My guess is that he means that even if the republican party split, the two new parties would be controlled by the more moderate business focused side, and the other would be the more social conservative wing. He's probably right that Paul wouldn't be able to get a nom out of either, if it played out that way. The only way Paul ever gets enough support for a major party to nominate him would be if said party had a large percentage of libertarians in it. There just plain aren't enough of them.

TiradeFaction said...

Oh well, I thought he was referring to legislative races, not presidential ones. D'oh!

DLW said...

There are too many fissures in the Democratic party for them to split in two.

What'd be more likely is for the tea-partiers to estrange themselves from the Republican party, which would subsequently reinvent itself to attract the migration of blue dog Democrats. With the blue-dogs gone, then the Democratic party would be more like it currently is post election of 2010, somewhat ideologically-purified. We'd see then if that would pick up more voters or not.

I'm guessing there'd still be a credibility gap.

So no way is there a 4-party system in the cards, but there could be two new major parties and the tea-partiers(including their libertarian variants) could start up LTPs that would be more influential in "more local" elections and what-not... I'm guessing something similar would then catch on with the younger set who are part of OWS et al.

Calmoderate said...


Jeez, I hope you are right. After all this time (over 4 years and a couple of thousand hours of my precious spare time) I see little movement and not much hope. Americans are what they are. I tried but cannot change it. I am about ready to walk away from all of this crap.

I confess, the current back and forth ( is about the end for me. What I see as white, the majority sees as black. At the least, when I said I was an altruist, I meant it knowing full well that sentiment cuts many different ways. Beyond that, I just do not know how to help. As you probably now know, I have only modest interest in individual issues. My real and only interest in politics is in why the two party system failed and betrayed us, how they got co-opted and how we might crawl out of the cesspit.

Anyway, thx for putting my mess up. I think it is very important but unappreciated (essentially off anyone's radar screens). I will not go down without a fight, i.e., conceding to at least one reasonably compelling counterpoint. I think I am right, but in a small minority. But, unless they have money small minorities usually don't much affect policy, do they?

Solomon Kleinsmith said...

"What'd be more likely is for the tea-partiers to estrange themselves from the Republican party, which would subsequently reinvent itself to attract the migration of blue dog Democrats."

You don't really understand the makeup of the Blue Dogs if you think they would join up with mainstream republicans. They're much closer to the democratic party than they are to average republicans. If the Tea Party types split off, and the GOP made a concerted effort to move towards the center, they'd find tens of millions of centrists and right leaning moderates, but even a big tent party would have a very hard time spanning between rank and file conservatives and blue dog democrats.

CalMod - if you've about had enough of the arguing, then don't argue and put your energy elsewhere. Throw in with Americans Elect and/or No Labels or something. Pick an org to back and ask them how you can help. Blogging is a long play... takes years and years to build a following.